The University of Arizona’s virtual university status update team met on Monday, Sept. 13, to discuss the COVID-19 Delta variant, new takeaway COVID-19 testing and current events.
UA President Dr. Robert C. Robbins began the meeting by addressing where COVID-19 case numbers are at now compared to this time last year — when on Sept. 14, 2020, the UA reached its highest positive case day, with 261 positive tests, a positivity rate of 15.4%. Robbins stated that the UA is in a much better place as of Friday, Sept. 10, with only 33 positive cases, a positivity rate of 1.7%. The president stressed that although this is a reason for optimism, the UA must remain diligent in combating the spread of COVID-19.
Robbins went on to announce its new Cats TakeAway Testing program, which will allow students to pick up a free COVID-19 PCR saline gargle test kit, register it over the phone and return the sample to the pick-up site. These new tests can be picked up at numerous locations around campus, including the Health Sciences Library, the Administration Building, Facilities Management, the Global Center, McClelland Hall, the Student Recreation Center, the Student Union Memorial Center and the Student Success District.
Robbins reiterated that individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should go to Campus Health to get tested.
“Finally, I want to again thank our faculty and staff members who have worked over the past weeks to assist colleagues and friends who are in need in Afghanistan,” Robbins said. He emphasized the work of Julie Ellison-Speight and Julia Smith, who as of last Monday have worked to help ten Afghan nationals evacuate from Afghanistan.
Robbins then turned the floor over to Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States. Carmona stressed that although the case numbers are looking better at the UA and in Pima County, the university should remain on guard, as about only half of the population is immunized.
The rate of transmission as of Sept. 3 was 1.43% for the UA and 0.94% for Pima County. At the time of the last status update on Aug. 30, the UA was at 1.19%, and Pima County was at 0.93%
“It is essential that we continue to urge, inspire, cajole, everybody to get vaccinated," Carmona said. "As well as to adhere to the best public health practices, so that we can continue, not only to keep our university open, but keep our businesses open, our restaurants open, be able to have university activities … to keep our businesses open, to keep our unemployment down, we must vaccinate and we must adhere to the best public health mitigation strategies.”
Robbins stressed that more students should get tested on campus and emphasized that most hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. Carmona added to this by encouraging students, faculty and families to get vaccinated and follow the UA's COVID-19 guidelines.
The status update was followed by a question and answer session. During the Q&A, Robbins stated that President Joe Biden’s new vaccination mandate would not affect UA policy.
The UA Campus Area Response Team was not covered in this status update.
The VUSU team will meet again next Monday, Sept. 20.
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